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Environment

Animal Weapons And The Evolution Of Battle

From horns to claws, teeth and talons, the animal kingdom features many natural weapons.

But evolutionary biologist Doug Emlen wanted to know why, in some rare cases, animals develop weapons that are dramatically outsized for their bodies. He studied creatures ranging from rhinoceros beetles to Irish elk and found the same story—an evolutionary arms race pushes animal weapons to the extreme. And this biological arms race also directly parallels human arms races like the Cold War. 

Host Frank Stasio talks with Emlen, professor of biology at the University of Montana, about his new book Animal Weapons: The Evolution of Battle (Henry Holt and Company/ 2014).

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